Flutterby™! : Independance Day Blues

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Independance Day Blues

2003-07-03 12:38:45.285615+00 by meuon 22 comments

As in previous years, I posted "Americans Who Risked Everything" text on our main website. Wherever it comes from, it hits me every year when I read it. This year, although I posted it anyway, I seem to be a little less proud of being an American. Our actions abroad, led by Bush Inc. and the Media Moguls seem to be of questionable motives and methods. It is one thing to walk softly and carry a big stick.. it is another to whine and whack at everything, and miss. Still, it is Independance Day (tomorrow), and I am proud to be an American. Dispite our shortcomings, this is an incredible nation to be a part of, to contribute to, and in very small ways, to help mold. The Freedom's we enjoy as Citizens of the USA are unique and without peer in the world, ranging from BurningMan to the simple ability to have sex in our homes, exercise Free Speech and worship (or not).

In this spirit, I implore fellow Flutterbarians to continue the revolution, one small step at a time, in socially responsible ways: vote. get involved, speak out, and do the right thing. Set an example for our fellow citizens. Next year, we could be even more proud of being an American and celebrating our independance and sovereignity.

[ related topics: Burning Man Politics Erotic Privacy Sexual Culture Journalism and Media Civil Liberties Chattanooga ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-07-03 14:27:28.052898+00 by: Pete

Not to come down on you, meuon, because I'm tracking with you on what you're saying, buuut I am getting worried about what seems to be a trend of "screw 'em if they ain't citizens," particularly in regards to the application of due process and other civil rights. It's not "all citizens are created equal," it's "all men are created equal." Long ago we made the necessary jump to take that as humanity, not just men, but now many in America seem content to have it slide back to cover only a certain category of humanity, instead of seeing those principles as an expression of the intrinsic rights of every person everywhere.

Go read the Bill of Rights. The word "citizen" is completely absent from it. It's a declararion of the minimum protections from state oppression that every person is entitled for no reason beyond their own personhood, but now we seem content to deny these rights to persons that can't claim citizenship.

You're right, meuon, that there is much to celebrate about America, but we must cherish and protect that which we are celebrating "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

#Comment made: 2003-07-03 15:48:17.202661+00 by: meuon

Good comment, and it puts into perspective why we attempt to help other nations and people, and yet, seem to have a double standard in this country.

#Comment made: 2003-07-03 20:10:55.331424+00 by: Bjorke [edit history]

Free not to worship, but you have to pay for others to worship anyway... even "fringe" groups like Moslems.

I can only imagine that the founders were deleriously happy with what they had done -- to have such an opportunity to do something that would so obviously be part of history. Even had they failed, their actions gave their lives meaning, set them toward grand goals of the highest order (and potentially gave their own capital holdings a tremendous opportunity to avoid degradation through royal taxation). Few people in history have ever had the chance to make such a declaration so crucial to themselves and to everyone around them.

Here in the 21st century, land of the complacent whiffle ball existence, it's hard to imagine that many "citizens" would even be interested in taking such a deliberate and reasoned stand on any issue (and would probably be labelled extremist nuts were they to try). No wonder it's been so easy for the admininstration to tread on the Bill of Rights.

#Comment made: 2003-07-07 16:59:55.579389+00 by: Johnny

Ahh yes, american freedom, so unique. Freedom to consult any doctor you like*, freedom to take a walk anywhere you please**, freedom to send your kids to any college there is***, freedom to work at any job you are offered****, freedom to express your sexual orientation any way you desire*****, freedom to have an abortion if you need one******, freedom to enjoy any leisure activity that strikes your fancy*******, freedom to try any mind-altering substance you're curious about********. Yes, it's truly the greatest country, with the greatest freedom !*********

fine print: * as long as the doctor is on the insurer's list. And as long as you have insurance. ** this excludes the majority of inner cities if you're white, and parts of the rural south if you're black. It's no biggie: just stick to where you belong. *** of course, the 50K + tuition of many of the better colleges might make it hard, but that shouldn't be a problem for real hard-working americans. **** as long as you don't happen to fail random drug testing. ***** actually, unless you live in New York or San Francisco, try to be discrete about it, OK ? You never know what might happen. ****** well, you can have one, except if you live in one of the growing lists of counties/states where all doctors who perform abortions have been chased out. ******* as long as the possibility of lawsuits has not priced it out of range, or just prohibited it (like, say, renting a horse for a ride - too dangerous). ******** Actually, better skip that one - way too risky.

********* Of course, if you actually went to live in another country for a while, you might find that there are better places, places with more practical (as opposed to theoretical) freedom. But why would you want to do that ?

#Comment made: 2003-07-07 17:42:31.827528+00 by: Pete

So much to choose from. I'll pick two:

**I am white, was born in Washington, DC, one of blackest cities in America, and have worked ALL over that city in literally every section and part. Never mugged, never harrassed, never called any racist names (never called any names at all, actually). You might want to get out and actually meet the people you're talking about instead of smearing them from behind a keyboard. You just might learn something.

***Yeah, services cost money. Shocker. How dare they charge adults for the education services they use? And there are MANY inexpensive higher learning options, too. In '96, my undergrad tuition was under $2000 at what was rated as the third best public college in the country.

#Comment made: 2003-07-07 18:13:18.942683+00 by: Larry Burton

  1. I've never been stopped from going to any doctor I wanted to go to.
  2. I've never been stopped from walking any place I wanted to walk.
  3. I've never been told I was free to send my kid to any college that there is.
  4. Any job offer I've ever received was dependant upon my agreement to abide by company policy.
  5. I know of no place on earth that should I be oriented toward showing affection to turkeys I could express that orientation in the middle of a town during peak business hours. However, I'm oriented toward monogamous, heterosexual relationships and I've been in one with my wife for the past twenty-six years. I suppose I'm not one to notice a lack of freedom in this area.
  6. If a legal abortion can be had in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a legal abortion can be had anywhere in this country. While Chattanooga has no abortion clinics and no one is advertising that service in Chattanooga, legal abortions are still being performed there.
  7. My neighbor rents a horse to ride about once a month.
  8. While I got all the curiosity about mind-altering substances out of my system almost thirty years ago, I will give you this one. I do not understand how we can say we live in a free country and not have the simple freedom to get stoned if we want to.

I've lived in very few places. Chattanooga, Tennessee, Cookeville, Tennessee and Lawrenceville, Georgia are the only places I've ever called home. Still, I've had friends, family and acquaintances from around the world. My business partner was born in Switzerland and has lived around Europe and now lives in Stone Mtn., Georgia. He prefers living here in the US. He's even planning on retiring to Alabama.

My step mother is from Guatamala and my step sisters still live there. They love their country and have chosen to remain there but they are quick to tell you that there is much more personal freedom in the US.

Johnny, most likely there is someplace outside the US that can provide you with more practical freedoms than the US but I can't see that applying to me. I'm a pretty plain vanilla person but the lack of a freedom in theory would bug the hell out of me. I don't reach enough to cross many boundaries but I dream enough to be restricted by certain encroachments on speech or the ownership of items deemed hazardous to society. Still, I'd like to know about these practical lands of freedom that you talk about.

#Comment made: 2003-07-07 18:20:35.993078+00 by: Dan Lyke

And I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I've got my options on sexual orientation, mind altering substances, and most leisures that strike my fancy. And yes, I can rent a horse for horseback riding in any number of nearby stables (although if there's going to be leather restraints involved, well...).

On the "doctors on insurer's lists": Kinda, you can also pay the doctor directly, as we do for some services. And our options of available doctors and services are pretty amazing here.

On the "freedom to take a walk anywhere you please", I've been told more places are off-limits by uniformed policemen with submachineguns in Europe and Asia than by rednecks with shotguns or drunks with broken beer bottles in the U.S., if that's what you're referring to.

I'm not sure I buy that "freedom to send your kids to any college they please" is either a freedom or a right. College is a service and an institution that's already given way too much power in our culture by government subsidies.

On drug testing for jobs, in the only places I've had it come up in my career it was offered as a "if they test negative we'll know they wouldn't fit in here."

But as I've looked around, I've realized that I pretty much do have my choices of where to live. Then I look at the people who talk about how much better it is in Europe or wherever, ask them why they don't move there, and I hear things about immigration and all those issues, and I realize that I live in the U.S. because I'm the sort of person who ends up supporting all of those services in those other places, and I don't want to be doing that, while the complainers are usually the ones who'd be supported by all of those services, so their desired countries don't want to let 'em in.

#Comment made: 2003-07-07 20:24:05.4354+00 by: meuon

Mega Ditto's Dan! (A Rush Limbaugh fever just hit me..)

meuon - hardly any college would take me, in the USA I was still able to succeed in business, become a member of the IEEE/Engineers Club, get good health insurance.. etc.. with not much more than a high school education, some military voc-tech training, and the willpower to create opportunities. You can be whatever you want in the USA, with reasonable limits, and some exceptions to even those.

#Comment made: 2003-07-08 13:55:16.121102+00 by: Johnny

I guess I just get irked when I read things like "Freedom's we enjoy as Citizens of the USA are unique and without peer in the world, ranging from BurningMan to the simple ability to have sex in our homes, exercise Free Speech and worship", because the same freedoms are present in pretty much all western democracies, and the people there don't routinely spout such grandiloquent platitudes about them. I'm used to hearing things like that from conservative republican types, but when I hear it from ostensibly liberal folks I get irked. Yes you can love your country, yes you can feel more confortable in your country than anywhere else; but do you *have* to say that it's because it's the bestest most number-onest country to ever exist in the universe ? Couldn't you just say that you love it because it's your country, and it's where you feel you belong ? Would it be so un-patriotic to just stop shouting "We're number 1 !" for a minute ? I don't want to get into the "this country is freer than that country" debate; I'll just say that I've lived in the US for a few years, and that I feel more restrictions on what I do or say here than I did in my country of origin (which shall remain nameless). I don't normally complain much about it, except when I get irked...

#Comment made: 2003-07-08 15:08:06.239355+00 by: Larry Burton

>> I'll just say that I've lived in the US for a few years, and that I feel more restrictions on what I do or say here than I did in my country of origin (which shall remain nameless).

I don't want to get into a debate like that either but your comments are leaving me curious. What causes you to feel restricted to say what you want, do what you want? Are you talking about government policy or social proprieties causing you to feel restricted? If you don't want to answer this in a public forum I'd be interested in the answers in email. larry at dallasbay dot net is my email address. No debate, just real curious.

#Comment made: 2003-07-08 15:52:35.765427+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep, you've got me curious now too. I have online contact with folks from a few of those countries normally held up as paragons of freedom, from Canada to Sweden, and I wouldn't trade their restrictions for the ones I live under here. Sure, I'd like to pick and choose a few more freedoms, but as an overall package I'd be loathe to go anywhere else that I'm aware of.

Although I have heard good things about Costa Rica.

#Comment made: 2003-07-08 20:43:29.865031+00 by: Johnny

Too many rules, regulations and conventions, both legal and social. Bars closing at 1AM. Cops throwing you out of parks (parks !) at 8:01PM. Having to be careful of which jokes you say to whom. Not complimenting a women on her appearance, so that I'm not accused of harassment in the workplace. Restraining myself from honking at assholes on the road, for fear that they'll pull a gun on me. Those charming "America: love it or leave it" bumper stickers (talk about freedom of expression!). Not even dreaming of possibly buying E or pot from a stranger. Having to pee in a cup in order to get a job. Being unable to rent a porn flick in a video store. Being repeatedly told that my girlfriend and I should get married (actually she gets that a lot more than I do). Not being able to buy a beer in store after 8PM, or on sunday. Little things - that add up. Admittedly, I come from the most liberal city of a fairly liberal country - and I moved to Connecticut. So I guess I asked for it...

By the way, Costa Rica's a nice place to visit, but there are many restrictions (legal and otherwise) for foreigners who want to live there.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 04:27:06.400003+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Being unable to rent a porn flick in a video store.

Why can't you? Do they not offer them? Or is there some other restriction keeping you from doing this?

Being repeatedly told that my girlfriend and I should get married

I think you're stretching a bit on this one. Nobody's forcing you to get married. You still have the freedom not to.

Not being able to buy a beer in store after 8PM, or on sunday.

Um... you do realize that rules like this aren't necessarily the norm across the country, right? (Note to self: Add Conneticut to list of places not to live.) Geez, I knew Utah had strict alcohol laws, but I thought they were it.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 05:37:43.740908+00 by: susan

Nope, Utah's not alone. Various areas of the South have the same sort of restrictions on the sale of alcohol and hours of business operation on Sundays. Blue Laws and whatnot. It's a Bible-belt thing around here.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 06:22:38.39851+00 by: Diane Reese

And it used to be much more widespread years ago. I grew up in NJ (not exactly a representative locale for Southern anything), and when I was little (in the '50s and early '60s) the blue laws didn't just extend to alcoholic beverages, but to all sorts of things. I have vivid memories of walking into department stores like E.J. Korvettes or Two Guys From Harrison and seeing whole sections of the store roped off with yellow rope and dark: that half of the store contained things you weren't allowed to buy until after noon on Sundays. Because, of course, you were supposed to be in church praying at that time, not buying socks in a store somewhere.

I gotta tell ya, man, people do some weird shit in the name of religion... If it were only a couple of stores, OK, that's fine, I'd just shop somewhere else. But when it's institutionalized and dictated by law, well... that's the kind of stuff I abhor.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 13:42:46.268056+00 by: Johnny

By the way, I learned recently that it is illegal (punishable by severe fines and jail terms) to sell dildos and other sex toys in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 16:17:21.794059+00 by: Larry Burton

Alabama, yes, sort of. Not in Tennessee or Georgia. The SC ruled the Georgia law unconstitutional so it's unenforcable. The stupid, redneck legislature recently refused to pass an amendment to the indecency law that made sex toys illegal to strike the banning of sex toys from the law so the entire law is unenforcable.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 16:49:31.885058+00 by: Dan Lyke

I believe that despite Williams, Bailey et al v. Alabama, Alabama did change the law to allow sex toys in 2002. This according to a bunch of reviews of The Vagina Monologues[Wiki].

In Texas I think it's illegal to sell or have posession with intent to sell, which means "6 or more". Unless that's per person, in which case we're still okay, we couldn't move to Texas.

I'm seeing rumors in my searching about two other remaining states, Kansas and Arkansas, but I haven't seen anything other than passing comments on that.

Yes. A hell of a lot of this country is still tied up in some sort of wacky puritanism, and we do have a long distance left to go.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 17:57:53.104566+00 by: Larry Burton

>> I believe that despite Williams, Bailey et al v. Alabama, Alabama did change the law to allow sex toys in 2002.

No. In 2003 they tried to change the law and failed.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 18:00:53.630902+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ahh, so there was yet another reversal after that decision. Ie: it's legal now, but the legislature refuses to take the law off the books despite its unconstitutionality.

#Comment made: 2003-07-09 18:17:18.542348+00 by: Larry Burton

No, it's still illegal but the law cannot be enforced. I think what this means is that you can still be arrested for breaking this law but the judicial system has no grounds to levy any punishment.

#Comment made: 2003-07-10 07:25:32.917739+00 by: Shawn

Man oh man. I'm gonna stop feeling guilty about never having lived anywhere but the greater Seattle area. (Note to self: Just stay here. Don't move anywhere.)